Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Farming update

It has been a while since the last blog.  This doesn't mean that nothing has been happening, it is more that so much has been happening, plus Farmer and family took a holiday!

On July 1st, it was National Meadows Day and we hosted a guided walk here in celebration of the day, and in conjunction with the Mull and Iona Food Trail Moveable Feasts, Ballygown Restaurant provided a fantastic picnic.  Rachel from the Dervaig Mull Eagle Watch hide came and set moth trips the night before so that we could all see what she had caught.  In the event, only one trap worked and it only caught 4 moths!  This is unusually few to trap on a summer night, possibly attributed to the  cooler weather recently - but in reality who knows for certain.  

It is the same with the orchids. This year there don't seem to be as many Greater butterfly,  Fragrant or Northern Marsh orchids.  The managements in the fields haven't changed so was it the dry spell in April that stopped their development this year?   That said, the Common Twayblades flowered in great numbers this year and the Common spotted orchids are in good number too.

So, on the day, National Meadows Day, it rained.  Not great picnicking weather!  A quick clear out of the barn meant we could all enjoy our picnic out of the rain...

The rain didn't really deter us.  We had a great walk through the fields ending up in the Coronation Meadow - at Haunn.  As the cows were due to go in to graze any moment, we walked through the middle of the field.  We saw the Small white orchid on the bank near Toechtamhor, and the Moonwort (rare fern) in Toechtamhor garden!

The next day Farmer and family went off on holiday.   We had a great time, thank you!

Now we are home and back to the reality and the TO DO list!

First thing on the list was to gather the hill ewes and their lambs in for shearing.  Thanks to Facebook we knew that Rhoda would be coming to shear on the Sunday just past.  We are lucky here that we have a shed to put the sheep in over night, if rain is forecast.   It rained a little on Saturday evening so Farmer put them all in the shed and could relax knowing that they would be dry the next morning for the shearers.  I didn't have a chance to photograph them this year.

The Cheviots and Zwartbles are brought into the field in front of the house in preparation for shearing. 

Here are some of the Blackface ewes waiting to go through the fank.  Tonight they will be in the cattle shed in case it rains. 

Along the coast, the top of a stack that the sheep cannot get on to, shows how rank the grass gets when it isn't cut or eaten!

The first Devils bit scabious!!  Photographed on July 25th. 

Self-heal, so pretty.  In the graveyard field. 

Meadowsweet, in the graveyard field. 

We think these are Painted lady caterpillars! We are waiting for their ID to be verified.  It would be very exciting if they were.

This year we are making silage in the Wigwam 2 field!  We put our tipi up below year in our first summer, and slept by the sea.  The name has stick but we don't take the tipi down there that often sadly. 

The weather hasn't be all good, there have been days of damper duller weather.

West Cottage grassy garden looking bonnie in the late afternoon sun. 

The golden hour before sunset is a wonderful time to walk through the fields. Jamie's heifers are in the field below the house, quite inquisitive and tear round the field when excited at high speed. 

From Wigwam 1 looking back to the gate and Ensay hill behind. 

There they go, careering around the field. 

If you have already been to Mull this summer you will know that the machair has been fenced! I helped  do a plant survey last week, it is wonderful to see the flowers coming now.

Summer evening, the sea is still making it perfect for otter spotting.  We saw an otter twice during our picnic the other evening. Not put off by the dogs or our own noise! 

And.... we met Gary MacLean!   Winner of Masterchef Professional 2016.  One evening Daughter and I learned how to cook 5 different dishes, and the next evening Farmer and I went to a Dinner at Duart cooked by him, which was absolutely delicious! 

Now it is time to get into the fields and mow.  Cutting bracken, cutting rushes and topping the fields where the sheep have been.  Topping is a way of tidying up the field, bringing the grass sward height down and encouraging regrowth.   We are waiting for the helicopter to come and treat some of the trickier areas of bracken that we cannot cut and therefore control mechanically.

Until the next time....

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